(By Eric Gilboord, Author, Speaker to Family Businesses and CEO, WarrenBDC for Help Buying, Selling & Enhancing Companies as appeared on LinkedIn.com)

When you own a family business it shouldn’t matter if the staff are blood related or long time employees. Your work family is as important as your real family, some say more so.

I’ve met far too many successful family business owners with a son/daughter or brother/sister-in-law in charge of a department that continually doesn’t perform. They hold up other departments, disappoint customers, frustrate suppliers and yet this action goes on no matter how much the staff complains.

Or they work half days and take endless holidays while everyone else is doing overtime. Wow what a message the owner is sending inside and outside the company. Makes you wonder if your staff are cutting back in their efforts as a kind of silent protest. Or when it comes to a last minute crunch maybe they just don’t feel it like they used to.

In spite of all this, the business is still very successful. And that’s part of the problem.

Blood is blood and as owners we all have unrealistic expectations of our blood family and their extensions. We offer ridiculous exceptions/excuses for their actions and make some of the dumbest decisions, all for the wrong reasons. Inevitably the poor decisions backfire and exacerbate the problem.

Ask yourself this. Are you making an important business decision based on emotion or fact? Will it be good for one or what’s best for the majority? How many of your staff will have their output, job satisfaction or customer relationships negatively affected? Is it worth it?

Whether they are blood or not, don’t let your emotions dictate a poor business decision that will adversely affect your company. You’re not doing the offenders or yourself any favors. Ineffective or worse, debilitating team members hurt themselves and everyone else around them. Typically the offender knows they are not doing their job and in my experience they would rather be somewhere else doing something else.

So maybe it’s time to sit down and discuss the situation with the family member directly. You will likely be doing them a favor and providing relief of the pressure you may not realize they’re under.

Remember this, the negative impact on a sale of your company could be worse than you might think. Allowing this kind of destructive behavior does not make you look like a smart operator. More like an easy mark. If you can’t keep a few staff in place doing their job and not dragging others down with them, what kind of a leader are you? What does that say about your company and how is it perceived both inside and out?

Oh, and I almost forgot. When a buyer comes in to conduct their due diligence, the troublemaker(s) will be spotted immediately. I’ve toured many family businesses and usually I can identify the problem staff in one or two visits. Talk to your staff, I do. If they understand you want the truth and more importantly you will actually do something about the problem then you will quickly get your answers. The minute you make excuses for family you will never get the truth again.

The buyer will not be as considerate as you in dealing with the problem. So, if you’re thinking about transitioning, you should get ahead of the situation as soon as possible.

Make every day count.

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